Two captains in the Boston Fire Department, along with two firefighters in Everett and Whitman, today asked a judge to order the state to give a promotional exam scheduled for Saturday, which the state canceled to try to figure out what to do about exams after a judge in another case ruled that the test used to promote police officers to sergeants was racially biased.
Capt. Paul Lyons, with 18 years at BFD, and Capt. Sean Gibbons, with 25 years, say the cancellation of a test for possible promotion to district chief is unfair because they have spent hours a day for months studying for the test and are now each out $1,000 in fees and the cost of study book. They add it's particularly unfair because the test had originally been set for May, then postponed until this Saturday.
In their complaint, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, they are seeking a temporary restraining order to make the state give the exam - and the similar exams canceled for the Everett and Winthrop firefighters. Although they have appealed the cancellation to the state Human Resources Division, any ruling from there would likely come after the test date and so too late to help them.
The division canceled the exams after Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins, ruled in a "statements of fact" on Oct. 27 - in a case filed in 2009 - that the current state emphasis on a written test based on rote learning to determine civil-service advancement in police departments at its core discriminated against candidates who were Black or not originally born in the US.
The false appearance of a fair process created inaccurate beliefs and created unwarranted expectations among candidates and appointing authorities. Those beliefs and expectations have had a life of their own in perpetuating a discriminary system that has injured qualified candidates and deprived the public of the benefits of having the best-qualified police sergeants. In all these actions [the state division] knew what it was doing.